No horror subgenre re-uses its own ideas so frequently as the slasher subgenre. It’s not as easy as it seems to think of a truly great mass murderer, so when you stumble upon a Freddy Krueger or a Michael Myers, it stands to reason that you’d return to that well. The subgenre in and of itself is built around a formula, so why not give the people what they want?
Sometimes, though, slasher movie makers exhibit that rarest of qualities: restraint. Throughout the subgenre’s short but prolific lifespan, there have been some truly great baddies who stuck around only for 90 minutes or so, never to be seen again.
This is a subgenre in which the dead never really stay dead, so even if the monsters were shot, stabbed, or burned alive at the end of the picture, they could easily come back. As yet, though, they haven’t, whether due to disappointing box office returns, or lack of interest from the creatives.
These are villains we’d love to give another run with their weapon of choice, monsters we could see ourselves being scared by all over again every October.
10. Henry - Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer
John McNaughton’s 1986 picture is something akin to an arthouse slasher movie, and accordingly not too likely to blossom into a major franchise. But the titular killer, played with terrifying dead-eyed intensity by Michael Rooker, would have been well worth a sequel to follow him on his dreadful journey.
Like any good movie killer, Henry is given a backstory by way of explanation, but his is murkier than most. He was abused by his mother, whom he killed, but the means are never clear; we’re never quite sure what’s true and what’s Henry simply entertaining himself (the shadiness of Henry’s character reflects real life inspiration Henry Lee Lucas, who falsely confessed to murders for fun).
Rooker injects Henry with just the right amount of persuasive charisma. He leads others along with him, most notably his pal Otis, whom he grooms into another killer. Henry’s philosophy is do unto others before they do unto you, and the unglamorous nature of this nomadic murderer feels about as realistic a depiction of psychopathy as we’ve seen on screen.
A whole lot more of this would be exhausting, but it would be interesting to know where Henry wound up; on the other hand, the uncertainty is perhaps more chilling.